The title of this post and the picture I’m about to show you may be a bit of a spoiler…
…but I couldn’t keep it in until the end of the post to let you know that I ran 18 miles last Saturday!!! AND at a decent pace!
Honestly, when I finished this run I felt AMAZING; I was on the biggest runners high I have ever been. It was the longest distance I’ve accomplished to date. The run itself honestly didn’t seem as grueling as I thought it would, but I feel like a lot happened over those 3+ hours. Let me summarize some of it for you:
- Miles 0 – 5: a bit brisk, but felt good
- Miles 5 – 7: realizing that the path from the Brooklyn Bridge to Prospect Park isn’t so scenic and somewhat ghetto — very glad to have my running buddy with me, you know, to fit away any bad guys who may try to steal my Gel Shots
- Miles 7 – 9: feeling good, but getting cold (in Prospect Park)
- Around Mile 9: OH SHIT, painful pull in my knee….try to slow down…eeek can’t run anymore…can’t even walk, hmm this is a problem in the middle of a big Park when it’s 20 degrees out…
- Walk 5min, a little stretching…
- Mile 9re-do: injury overcome!
- Miles 10 – 12: feeling good again
- Mile 12: eeek my Clif Gel Shot froze! Sucking down the consistency of taffy
- Miles 13 -15: Almost there, but I’ve had to pee since mile 8…
- Mile 15: No bathroom, no problem. I peed myself. Not once ounce of shame — I was on my way to 18 miles :-)
- Mile 16: Telling myself “you can F*cking do this”
- Mile 17: Literally ran into a string running across the side walk of Manhattan — think booby trap
- Mile 18: HOME FREE
So let me rewind a bit and start from the beginning.
Saturday morning I had my alarm set for 8:30am in order to head out by 9:30am to meet Kristine (best running buddy ever!). Unfortunately I was awoken by the alarm — I guess I was tired. I was so excited for my run, though, that I was happy to wake up early on a Saturday! “happy to wake up early on a Saturday to run 18 miles” — at what point in time did I lose my mind? I think it was the day I started running. Anyways, I got out of bed, drank a glass of water and ate a Clif bar. I normally do the whole toast with peanut butter and banana deal before a long run, but lately the peanut butter has been sitting too heavy in my stomach and I wanted some dense nutrition, which I feel like a Clif bar provides. Also, I ate a Clif bar before my last half marathon and PR’d, so I figured it was a good omen. An hour after waking up I headed out adoring a warm outfit:
- Headband warmer
- Warm running tights
- Long sleeve base layer
- Brooks light weight, but warm running jacket
- Fuel belt with 3 cups water and 1 cup of 1/2 vitamin water, 1/2 water
- 1 Accel gel; 1 Clif Shot gel
- SmartWool socks
- Big, warm, ski mittens :-)
I don’t remember exactly, but I believe it was about 29 degrees and windy out — so yeah, chilly. I met up with Kristen and we headed on our journey. Our path took us along the East River, over the Brooklyn Bridge, to Prospect Park, around the park, and back home.
I wanted to try something new and had never been to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, so I figured a long run would be a good chance to make the trip. It’s funny, I think I’ve experienced more of NY via running, then I ever would just wandering. The only negative part of this route, and why I would probably never do it again, was the portion from the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge to Prospect Park. It was all city streets and kind of ghetto…oh and slightly slanted up hill. We had to stop a million times to wait for lights/cars.
After 8 miles, despite the cold weather, I was feeling exceptionally good and ready to conquer 18 miles. I was getting a faint though so I opened up the Accel gel I had on me and shot it down. This was my first time trying Accel gels and I was not a fan. The taste was terrible (I had chocolate). The only upside was that it was very watery and easy to swallow. I think I only had 1/2, but it’s kind of hard to tell how much was left in the packet when I tossed it aside. The little energy push made me feel better. My hands were starting to get cold, which I really thought was impossible with my $80 super ski gloves, but the rest of me felt fine and I had no muscle pain. Then, out of NO WHERE, all of a sudden I felt a pull along the side of my knee cap. I instantly had to stop. It’s not that I even had the chose of pushing through the pain, I physically could not run. It was so odd. I was scared. I called to signal Kristine and she stopped with me. I tried taking a few running steps again and failed. I really thought my run was done for. I told Kristine she could go ahead, I didn’t want to ruin her run too; but as Kristine is the best running buddy ever she stuck with me. I told her what and where the pain was and thanks to the magic of smart phones Dr.Kristine was able to diagnose my injury within minutes. Whatever site she pulled up recommended stretching and strengthening of the IT Band. Well it wasn’t really the best time to strengthen, so I went with the stretching option. A few IT band and hamstring stretches and I decided I wanted to try running again. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on my 18 mile run that I’d been looking forward to all week. Well, I have to say the running gods were with me on Saturday because the stretching worked! I started with a few very slow running steps and then we were off again, on our way through Prospect Park! You have no idea how deeply relieved I felt that the pulling in my knee went away, I was extremely worried that this was it for my marathon training in general.
Continuing on our run, we tried to find our way out of Prospect Park and failed miserably, running in the wrong direction for a bit before we asked a kind passer-by which way Manhattan was. Oops, good thing my goal was too get in more miles. Around mile 12 Kristine headed to take the subway home (she’s tapering for a Half) and I continued on my way back to the Brooklyn Bridge, determined to make 18 miles.
Since I think I only took 1/2 of my Accel gel, I was hungry again by mile 12 and decided to go for my Mocha Clif Shot gel (which are so tasty, I love them!). I teared open my gel only to realize that the cold had gotten to it — the gel hard hardened a bit making it more along the lines of a caramel/taffy consistency. Needless to say, it was a bit hard to eat, but I was hungry so I munched it down.
Running back over the Brooklyn Bridge around mile 13, I am shamed to say the thought actually crossed my mind of walking the incline to the bridge. Luckily I remembered my rule — “never let a hill win.” So I didn’t, I slowed down and trudged on. I wish I could say the downhill at the other end of the bridge was nice, but I could have done without that as well — downhills are harsh on the knees!
Over the Brooklyn Bridge, back in Manhattan (my beloved home), I knew I could do it. All I had to do now was make my way home. Shoot, it was too cold to walk anyways!
…and here comes the 2nd time in my life I knew I was a runner. It was around mile 14 or 15. I had to pee since mile 8, but didn’t know where to stop and didn’t want to lose momentum. I have always planned that if I had to pee during the marathon, I wouldn’t stop, I’d just go. So in full training mode, that’s exactly what I did — I just went. You read it right, I peed my pants. Literally. No shame once so ever. Part of me wishes I could say it was really gross, but you know what, I didn’t care. I felt like I had dropped 5lbs off of me and I was more ready than ever to finish out my run….and for all of you who still think it’s gross — I did wash my clothes and shower after the run haha.
By mile 16 I was so close to home I could feel it. I was back on the East Side path, the same path I’ve run a million times and knew by heart. I was happy to see other fellow runners out on the river. Snow flurries were starting to come down and I laughed thinking that I, the girl who is ALWAYS cold, was running 18miles with snow flurries. On top of that, the wind had picked up and must have been around 15mph by then. I pushed through.
I somehow got it in my head that I now wanted to finish my 18 miles in 3 hours and 10minutes, because I’d lost my mind by that point. So I pushed harder. On my last mile home, through the streets of NY, I met my last obstacle to the journey. Running along the side walk I thought I saw a thin white line around chest height, but then figured I must just be delusional at this point. I kept running and then realized I was being held back haha. I was not crazy! Jiggered between an ambulance and a tree was a thin white tread set up in booby trap fashion. Of course I’m the idiot who ran into it. Whatever, I was also the idiot who was about to finish running 18 miles, so I got myself out and ran on!
Then, the glory! 18 Miles DONE!!!
My splits are a little messed up because I must have accidentally pressed the “lap” button on my Garmin at Split #9.
Back home in my warm apartment I was thrilled, I don’t know how else to explain it. I bragged to my boyfriend before taking a hot shower and stretching a bit.
I truly never thought that I’d be able to run 18 miles. It’s amazing how your body can do what your mind puts it to.
Greatest lesson learned by my injury scare — I MUST dedicate more time to strength training. After running 18 miles I realized I CAN run a marathon, but I also CAN get injured. Running takes strength and if I’m going to go 26.2 miles, I need the muscles to support it. Hip flexors and squats here I come. I will run a marathon and I will not get injured.
QUESTIONS: How was your run this weekend? What’s your longest distance and how did you feel afterwards? Any good strength training exercises you want to share??